A local student asked me some questions and this is my answer. As always, I don’t even come close to answering the actual question….
To what extent do you believe the media has a role in the growth of far right politics in the UK?
I would suggest that “traditional media” is a lost cause.
If I want to find out about any particular global issue I have to expend a great deal of effort. I first have to read from a number of UK based sources, then compare and contrast this with sources from abroad such as Russia Today and Al Jazeera. I then have to try to use all of this agenda driven information to try to triangulate the truth. Without this exhausting approach it’s nigh on impossible to get what I would define as reliable news.
But some of our media groups in the UK take things to a whole other level. And bloody hell, they’re a nasty lot.
The printed press in the UK is unquestionably dominated and controlled by 5 billionaires (the Barclay brothers make up two of these). Through their newspaper networks (and television channels such as Sky and Channel 5) they have incredible control over the information available to the British Public.
All 5 operate as either offshore owners or utilize non-domicile status and as a result benefit hugely from complex accountancy systems that see them pay little to no tax. They will publish anything as long as it protects this situation.
All 5 also have a massive hold over the politicians of this country. If any politician steps out of line or follows an agenda they don’t agree with they will be vilified, undermined and given almost perpetual mockery (with the honourable Jeremy Corbyn being a recent example).
All 5 were huge supporters of the Brexit campaign.
There are many who even suggest that the power of these people is so all encompassing that nothing of any political consequence ever takes place in the UK without their consent.
I’m not clear exactly want they want, but as billionaires I’m fairly certain that it would be in their best interest to maintain the neoliberal status quo.
The people of Britain, who are no mugs, are acutely aware that there are major structural problems in our society. Yet the 5 media barons have proven to have long held agendas of diverting attention from away form the issues that will most affect people’s life (global warming, banking regulation, tax collection and the protection of public services) and there is also never any questioning of our prevailing economic system.
Rather than using their media networks to describe the endemic structural problems in our society they instead deliberately obviscate our ability to find the truth and pursue a simplistic agenda to vilify minority groups as being the cause of all of our problems.
The narrative is simplistic and repeated: “All of the problems in our society are the fault of foreigners who are coming over here to steal your job/benefit/house/hospital bed.” And the result is predictable: the people focus their anger at the minorities rather than on the true cause of their pain (the monopolistic greed of the billionaires and multi-national corporations).
Now this is obviously incredibly destructive but these Media Barons are only doing what they are legally obligated to do. As owners and Directors of companies they must, under law, try to ensure the greatest possible return for their shareholders. Exposing structural economic problems would undoubtedly lead to political change and presumably an impact on their bottom-line, which is fully at odds with their corporate objectives. So, they simply continue the narrative of blame others and refuse to ever let the other side of the story known. It’s incredibly destructive but for them, it’s also proven to be effective.
You just need to Google past headlines of these newspapers or view the evening schedule of channel five. I can guarantee there will be headlines blaming migrants or refugees for any number of problems or vilification of the most desperate people in our society as being “work-shy scroungers” and “spongers”.
This constant drip-drip-drip of dis-information will inevitably manifest itself in people as fact given enough time. We are only human after all.
And ultimately, people’s humanity is being corrupted by fear.
Everyone knows that newspapers lie, but what we fail to appreciate is that some of them lie all the time.
One of the collateral damages of or post-truth world is that not only does the present news gets distorted – the past gets rewritten as well. The press in the UK ignore, forget or misrepresent our own actual history.
Such as Europe having a long history of almost constant population movement and mixing of cultures, yet we never hear about this. We are told precisely the opposite and that our “way of life”, manufactured by the retelling of historical facts, is now under threat.
The truth however is that the greatest threat to our “way of life” is not migration or desperate people receiving social security. The greatest threat to our society is that we believe the single great lie that ever told: “some human lives matter less than others.”
With this greatest lie repeatedly stated by our media and unchallenged by our politicians we have to ask some questions.
Can our media barons ever be trusted or responsible?
Will our existing politicians start being honest?
I have my doubts, but I’m going to keep fighting for the truth from them anyway.